by Justin Moore
Netflix has made Ted Bundy popular again. Earlier this year Netflix released a documentary series, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. That series became widely popular on the digital streaming service. So popular that Netflix had to tweet that many people were commenting on Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and that there are thousands of other men on the streaming service, whom almost all were not convicted serial killers. I thought it was pretty funny that they even had to do that.
The American serial killer admitted to murdering over 30 young women in the 1970s. He gained popularity during his trials because it was the first to be televised in the United States. Many women believed him to charming and handsome, traits that he used to exploit their trust. Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy as he first met his longtime partner, Liz Kendall, played by Lily Collins. This is a unique take on the film as it is from the perspective of Liz and her relationship with Ted. The film is heavily set around Bundy and his trials, but it shows the effects those trials had on her.
I believe Zac Efron was the perfect pick to play Ted Bundy. He didn’t exactly look like him, but Efron’s personality was just right for Ted Bundy. Efron has spent his film career being the charming, handsome heartthrob who people love watching on screen and Ted Bundy was very similar. People were drawn to Bundy whenever they saw his trials on television, even though he murdered several women. There is one big thing that is different between those two though: Bundy murdered people and Efron hasn’t. I really enjoy Efron’s performances in his comedy movies, but I think this is his best role yet. He was mostly charming in the movie because the film didn’t glorify his violent actions, but instead followed a different approach which showed why he was successful in living a double life. When it called for Efron to be controlling and sadistic, he pulled off those moments well.
Another standout in the film was Lily Collins, who had much more screen time than I thought she would and I was happy with that. She was easily convinced that Ted was a decent guy and she showcased a lot of happiness in the early parts of the film. After Ted’s first arrest, she became more hesitant around him and her role became more serious and hard to watch. She is having a great run lately with this film and she is starring in Tolkien. Way to go Lily Collins!
I was honestly expecting a film to show all of the brutal murders that happened mixed with Ted’s life with Liz, but the approach to have the film told from Liz’s perspective was a smart choice because the film didn’t end up feeling like something I have seen before. As I was watching the film, I felt like I was viewing the trial on television. I got to see the charming side of Ted Bundy and I even questioned if he was innocent or not.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was a surprising film that was carried by its acting and its fresh approach. By not showing the violent murders, we got to see why many people thought Ted Bundy was charming and manipulative. It was an approach I wasn’t expecting and it paid off. Many people thought they would be getting something different, but if you can look at this film from the angle they were aiming for, you just may end up liking it.
Read more of Justin's reviews at HOTCHKA.com